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Plan A, Cramer Lakes

Posted on by Brandi Johnson / Comments Off on Plan A, Cramer Lakes

On a dramatic August morning, partly cloudy with a storm moving in, we awaken to the beauty of Grand Mogul and Mount Heyburn, two of many peaks in the Sawtooth Range.

I’m excited at the prospect of my first overnight backpacking trip, which will include a six-and-a-half-mile hike with a gain in elevation of about 1,826 feet and a stream to cross. Our destination is the three Cramer Lakes, lower, upper, and middle, deep in the Sawtooths. Continue reading

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Or Not to Ski

Posted on by Michael Stubbs / Comments Off on Or Not to Ski

When I backpacked thirty miles through the rough and rocky Sawtooth Range in July 2013, I met many people, from England, Oregon, Connecticut, and elsewhere. Last February, when I dragged the same backpack on a sled over a snowpack eight feet deep, I saw none of these people.

I didn’t even see the mountains. They were veiled in cloud. The only person I saw was my friend Will, whom I had convinced that skiing to Idaho’s Imogene Lake via the Hell Roaring Creek trail in winter was a good idea. Will had shared my summer view of this coldwater lake, which reflects the crumbling granite of the serrated Sawtooth peaks reaching all around to ten thousand feet. I had convinced both of us that the quiet beauty and isolation of the high mountain valley could be even better experienced in winter­­­—and maybe we would even see wolves. But that wasn’t how it worked out.

Perhaps we just picked the wrong weekend. The weather worked against us. The larger Sawtooth Valley, so reliably cold through most of the winter, was experiencing a warm spell. The snow that had fallen for two days before we arrived was slushy, thanks to the weather phenomenon known as the Pineapple Express. Our skis sank eight to ten inches with each forward kick. The lead skier carved a deep trough for the man who followed. Neither breaking trail nor following was easy. I had to shorten my ski poles to match the new difference in height between the trough that I stood in and the snow at my sides. And when I stepped out of my skis to adjust my gear, I sank past my waist and floundered desperately in wet snow. Continue reading

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Lioness of Idaho

Posted on by Mike Bullard / Comments Off on Lioness of Idaho

After I retired as a minister, I decided to write about my friend Louise Shadduck, whom I knew was a great role model for young women, although at that time I had no idea of just how colorful and influential she had really been. Digging through boxes of her papers in the basement of the library at the University of Idaho, I saw photos of her with U.S. presidents and world leaders, and newspaper articles about how she changed the whole state. My book, Lioness of Idaho: Louise Shadduck and the Power of Polite (2013) documents how, as Secretary of Commerce and Development, she gained national attention for leading Idaho into its ten best economic years of the twentieth century. It tells how this high school graduate became an administrator for two governors and for a U.S. senator and U.S. congressman, a recognized international leader among women journalists, author of five books, and was once one of the most celebrated citizens in Idaho.
The following story excerpted from my book shows a different side of her. In private life she was a fast-driving, horseback-riding sister of six brothers from a pre-Depression Idaho farm. When she saw a small plane crash in the distance on an Idaho mountain, she thought nothing of plowing through knee-deep snow in her sneakers to help a stranger in trouble. Yet she never told most of her friends and family. Starting only with an unusual clipping in the Idaho Statesman, I searched for a year to put together the accounts and find someone who was there.

A life and death ordeal on a snowy mountainside was the last thing on the minds of Louise or her staffers Jan and Kathleen as they set out driving from Boise on an eighty-degree June day in 1967.

Louise had hired Janice Moulton to help with much of the department’s copious writing work, and Jan became, in effect, the department’s publicity officer. Eighteen-year-old Kathleen Barrett had been taken on just a year before as a part-time intern.

One of Louise’s favorite pastimes was introducing young adults to celebrities who might inspire them and help their careers. The three were headed for Sun Valley to attend the annual convention of the powerful National Federation of Press Women where Louise could introduce Jan and Kathleen to some of the greatest female role models in the country. Continue reading

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After Summer

Posted on by Rachel Gattuso / Comments Off on After Summer

Our snowmobiles sliced through tall, blackened trees, casting high-pitched whines into the sparsely populated terrain.

We followed the path’s endless S-curves as they opened before us. The trees seemed stripped of significant limbs, barren and lifeless. But in the pure white, the black trees racing by were hypnotic. The four of us, who were on the tail end of a day spent snowmobiling in Stanley, had driven into the stoic remains of a wildfire. Yet as we zipped through the quiet folds of the countryside, these charred trees seemed whitewashed, given a new look by the snow. The ghost pines stretched to the sky, painting an eerie picture.

If I could show you a picture of this backwoods scene, surely you would be reminded of how, even in large-scale destruction, there is beauty and new life. But that day I brought my phone instead of a regular camera. Such an incredible piece of technology will cut down the number of gadgets I carry, I reasoned. Unfortunately, I discovered that the fancy thing turns off sporadically in extreme temperatures. The lanky trees in their grim splendor, my favorite image of the day, will have to live in my memories.

I should back up about four years. The first time I drank in the power of the Stanley Basin, I had just emerged from a room at the Mountain Village Resort with camera in hand. The craggy peaks of the Sawtooth Range were drenched in blinding white snow and crowned with a bluebird sky. It was a postcard come to brisk (I could see my breath) life, and it took a minute before I remembered to snap a shot. For a few moments, as the Sawtooths loomed in front of me, I was powerless to look away. They consumed me wholly, marched right into my world and planted a bold flag.
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